Home Away from Home: Ronald McDonald House of Durham

For 34 years, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham has been providing a home away from home for families with seriously ill children. Their vision is to offer love, share comfort, inspire community and sustain hope by giving families a place to stay when their child is being treated in a nearby hospital. Accommodating Families in Need When a family travels more than 50 miles from home to obtain treatment for their child, they are eligible to stay at the House. For a suggested $10-15 per night, a family can stay in a bedroom with amenities similar to a hotel room, but families are never turned away for their inability to pay. All families have access to a fully equipped communal kitchen, dining area, living room and laundry facility. There is also a chapel, learning center, computer room and library on site. Having these resources is important in meeting the needs of a family who has to spend several weeks or months away from home. The Ronald McDonald House also sponsors family rooms at Duke University Hospital and WakeMed Children’s Hospital so families can get away to relax, have a meal or check email without having to leave the hospital grounds. The Ronald McDonald House of Durham anticipates hosting more than 1,300 families in the house and 40,000 visits to the family rooms in the coming year. They rely on the support of the community and volunteers to help meet the needs of these families. Holly Hutchinson, community outreach manager for the Ronald McDonald House of Durham, explains: Volunteers provide a clean place to relax, activity nights, and home cooked meals....

So No One Goes Hungry: Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

For over 30 years, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina has provided food for those at risk of hunger in 34 counties in the state. The nonprofit organization serves as a link between food donors and a network of partner agencies that provide the donations to those in need. Feeding Those in Need for 30 Years Over half a million people struggle with hunger in the North Carolina counties served by the Food Bank. About 30% of those people are children. The elderly make up 8%. An additional 30% are people who have jobs but are unable to buy food because their income only covers necessities such as housing and medicine. The mission of the Food Bank is to ensure No One Goes Hungry in Central & Eastern North Carolina. Last year the organization worked toward that goal by distributing a record 52 million pounds of food, or the equivalent of 43.5 million meals, to residents of the counties it serves. How the Food Bank Works Items are donated to the Food Bank through retailers, farmers, manufacturers and community food drives where it is stored in one of the six distribution centers in North Carolina. Donations have to be sorted and repackaged so that they can be picked up or delivered to over 800 of the partner agencies they serve in each county. There are several types of partner agencies that use the donations in different ways. For example, food pantries provide groceries for people to take home. Soup kitchens and emergency shelters use the food to cook hot meals for people in need. The Food Bank...

Improving Learning Outcomes: The Helps Education Fund

The Helps Education Fund uses an apple in their logo because it is an international symbol of teaching, often representing growth and the need for nurturing, as well as the wisdom passed from teachers to students. The apple also signifies variety and change. Instead of the traditional red apple associated with teaching and the excellent work of teachers, the Helps Education Fund uses a green apple to symbolize that educators and students still need support in a variety of ways. According to national statistics, 33% of children in elementary school cannot read at even a basic level and 66% cannot read at a proficient level. When children do not develop basic academic skills, their academic, work, and life opportunities are significantly limited. The Helps Education Fund works to change these statistics by offering research-supported educational resources to teachers so that their students will have better learning outcomes. John Begeny, the nonprofit’s Executive Director, explained: There are too many students who fail to meet even basic learning goals, so the overall mission of the Helps Education Fund is to continue providing free and research-supported programs, services, and professional development to the thousands of hard-working educators who are dedicated to improving the lives of children and their communities. Programs Offered to Educators In the first two years they were in operation, they were able to provide their services to over 15,000 educators and parents. The organization’s Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) Program aims to improve literacy among early readers by providing teachers with materials that improve students’ reading skills. The HELPS program is available for teachers to incorporate into their curriculums...

Deanna Stoker “The Planning Patty” for The Scott-Free Scholarship Foundation

Deanna Stoker is taking her professional background in meeting and event planning and is using it to help The Scott-Free Scholarship Foundation in her Pro Hero role as “The Planning Patty”.  Specifically, Stoker is assisting the Executive Director of The Scott-Free Scholarship Foundation, Deborrah Jeffreys Gruder, by playing a critical role in the creation and implementation of event planning and fundraising for two events, including the 2nd Annual Scott-Free Tech Raffle and The Scott-Free Scholarship Foundation 2014 Gala. Stoker reflects on her experience thus far, working with Gruder and The Scott-Free Scholarship Foundation: “I went into this experience thinking that not only would I’d be helping a great cause, I would also be able to use my skill, expertise and love for event planning.  What I didn’t realize is that I’d also be meeting an inspiring, courageous, and amazing woman. I literally left my first meeting with Deborrah with tears in my eyes as I sat and listened to how her journey began, where it currently is and how she and Scott-Free have helped these children, shaping some of them into awesome young adults.” The 2nd Annual Scott-Free Tech Raffle Once a year, as the summer season nears, numerous requests are made from children who need assistance from Scott-Free in order to experience a summer camp adventure. Every ticket sold through the Scott-Free Tech Raffle helps to fund a summer camp experience for an at-risk child. Thus far, the 2nd Annual Scott-Free Tech Raffle has raised more than $3,000! The raffle will close and winners will be announced in early June. Gruder’s hope is that others will support the foundation’s...

Virginia Fitt “Super Strategist” Marketing Consultant for PineCone

Virginia Fitt, Super Strategist, is an in-house counsel for GlaxoSmithKline in marketing and promotions, and has worked on multiple marketing and communications campaigns both professionally and pro bono. Fitt’s interest in Americana and traditional music led her to PineCone’s project, and she believes they have “the opportunity to capitalize on both the renewed popularity in traditional music influences and greater ties to geographic sense of place.” Inspired by the Pro Heroes projects, the Super Strategist is actually working on two of them (see her other one here). Fitt shares her enthusiasm for the Pro Hero concept: “Activate Good’s initiative provides access to high-quality volunteer work that allows professionals to share knowledge with organizations doing important work in North Carolina, with a unique project-based approach.” PineCone – Preserving Traditional Music PineCone – The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc. preserves, presents, and promotes all forms of traditional music, dance, and other folk performing arts. As the largest and most active traditional music organization in North Carolina, PineCone seeks to increase the visibility of Piedmont music and to provide public programs and educational resources about cultural expression in the region today. Building Membership & Awareness Across North Carolina While PineCone maintains a large reach across the state, the organization wanted to better articulate its story and increase membership to sustain its slate of free programs. With a small staff and a tight budget, PineCone needed a Pro Hero. Super Strategist, Virginia Fitt, came to their rescue! Fitt put together a marketing plan that aims to increase membership by 10%. She also developed clearer, more compelling messaging that simplifies PineCone’s many programs...